Sure the loss to Missouri was probably Kansas' most disappointing of the past decade. Not only did the Jayhawks lose a game, but they lost the Border Showdown, a chance at a third straight bowl game, a fifth straight six-win season, a fantastic senior class, and potentially a coaching staff all in a single, exceptionally close, and exciting contest.
On the other hand, a team can't play as great a game as the Jayhawks and Tigers did without finding a few positives to ride into the offseason.
First of all, Todd Reesing didn't look Tim Biere's way too often, but maybe he should have. The bulky, block-first tight end has flashed great hands not just against Mizzou, but all season long.
Next year, maybe a taller quarterback and an improving offensive line will allow Tim Biere to slip into the short middle of the field a little more often with a few more results. As a junior, he should become Kale Pick's favorite safety net.
Secondly, anyone who was upset with Kansas' defensive efforts this year can expect at least one positive sign over the offseason: change. Even if the defense appears no better whatsoever, I can promise that it's about to get far younger and much more athletic.
As many as four redshirt freshman defensive ends, four more in the secondary, and any talented 2010 commits who stick around could all have an immediate impact on that side of the ball. Huldon Tharp, Lubbock Smith, Drew Dudley, Jake Laptad, and Chris Harris seem like locks, but that still leaves six positions wide open for the taking.
Thirdly, Dezmon Briscoe had a monster game against Missouri, and I have never really expected him to stay in school anyway. However, the Tigers also exposed a weakness or two that may cause scouts to think twice about the talented junior.
Will his poor blocking, erratic focus, and fumbling issues be enough of a beating to scouts' hopes? I hope so. I don't care who is coaching this team or what our younger receivers look like; Kale Pick would be ecstatic to have Briscoe back. This being said, I personally still think that sticking around, especially if a new coach is on the way end, does nothing to help Briscoe's status.
Next, the offensive line has really started to come around in the last three games. The talent there is by no means astounding, but the depth, youth, and improvement are.
I don't want to hear any crap about giving up a big safety, either. That play was one of just four or five total breakdowns in the past three weeks. Besides, even on a third-and-10 after two passes, who runs a quarterback draw behind a tiring, young offensive line out of the endzone in such a massively-important situation?
Finally, how about that Rell Lewis kid? When I talked about him before the season started, I predicted his successful spring game would roll over into a few carries here and there per game in some no-pressure situations.
How about three runs for 12 yards and a catch (followed by some supreme-shiftiness) for 42 yards with the biggest game of his entire career on the line? I know it's not much, but after just five runs for 17 yards and one catch for negative two yards in mop-up time against UTEP and Southern Miss, I didn't figure we'd see the sophomore again this season.
However, in some clean-up minutes against Texas, he scraped up five rushes for 43 yards, and with Toben Opurum injured and Jake Sharp exhausted, he came up really big against Mizzou when Kansas needed it most. I never expected it, but Deshaun Sands may not be the guy spelling Opurum next season.
So the season is very disappointingly over and our coaching situation is still in turmoil, but not all is lost for Jayhawk football fans. 2010 will be an interesting season at the very least for Kansas, and I'm already getting excited.